Peripheral Myths in the Semiotics and Design of Everyday Things


Robert Guyker (Chapman University - Orange, CA)

The objects a person keeps around them daily form a kind of domestic cosmology. When objects affect a wider community, they have the potential to become “mythings,” peripheral myths that may (re)construct a remote past, inform design practices, and motivate speculative models for a future. Building on the biosemiotics of Jakob von Uexküll and Thomas A. Sebeok as well as Roland Barthes’ semiology, I consider how mythologies inform a group’s Umwelt, or experience of the environment. Mythings, then, reify discrete vernacular expressions of these larger modeling systems, enabling affordances that designers appropriate with a user-base (‘folk’) in mind.

Part of 28-02 Folkloristic Work on Myth: Trends, Developments, and Tricksters, Tuesday, October 19, 8:45 pm–10:15 pm